Professional Development for Teachers

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In April 2015, Indian Land Tenure Foundation program staff attended the American Educational Research Association conference in Chicago. During this time, 401 surveys were completed to determine whether there is a need to strengthen teacher training to enhance usability of the Lessons of Our Land curriculum. Of the 401 surveys, 164 were higher education faculty members and 237 were K-12 teacher and school administrators. Members of each of these groups were asked to complete a different survey about teacher preparation for teaching Native American students. Results from the surveys indicate a lack of preparation for pre-service teachers (89%), yet an interest to participate in professional development opportunities aimed at better reaching Native American students by in-service teachers (96%).

Eighty-seven percent of the teachers surveyed reported that they did not take a course that included culturally relevant teaching methodologies for Native American students during their pre-service training. Additionally, approximately 62% indicate they have been unable to participate in professional development opportunities in which they were exposed to Native American education, learning, and teaching. Still, with that in mind, 60% of the teachers surveyed are aware of professional development programming that at least includes teaching strategies aimed at enhancing teaching practice for Native American students. Some of the more interesting results discovered through this survey include teacher desires for more flexibility in professional development programming (41%). Among these responses, 38% indicated an interest in online opportunities to engage in professional development.

The Indian Land Tenure Foundation is in the process of creating an online professional development program for teachers teaching Native American students using the Lessons of Our Land curriculum. This program will provide teachers with learning opportunities to enhance their practice through incorporating and utilizing a culturally-responsive curriculum. The online training will consist of recorded video demonstrations and access to a nation-wide discussion forum where teachers will be able to share their experiences and resources, while also providing opportunities to discuss challenges and successes they are having in the classroom.